Platformisation of Science. Conceptual Foundations and Critical Perspectives for the Science System

Authors : Benedikt Fecher, Raffaela Kunz, Nataliia Sokolovska, Marcel Wrzesinski

The digital platforms we are dealing with in this article are auxiliary tools that do not produce anything themselves but provide an infrastructure for service providers and users to meet. They have potentially unlimited scaling potential and have become the central places of exchange.

In academia we can also observe that research and its communication becomes more digital and that digital services are aiming to become platforms. In this article we explore the concept of digital platforms and their potential impact on academic research, firstly addressing the question: To what extent can digital platforms be understood as a specific type of research infrastructure?

We draw from recent literature on platforms and platformisation from different streams of scholarship and relate them to the science studies concept of research infrastructures, to eventually arrive at a framework for science platforms. Secondly, we aim to assess how science platforms may affect scholarly practice. To this end, we relate common platform practices to scientific practice. Thirdly, we aim to assess to what extent science is platformized and how this interferes with scientific understandings of quality and autonomy.

In the end of this article, we argue that the potential benefits of platform infrastructure for academic pursuits cannot be ignored, but the commercialization of the infrastructure for scholarly communication is a cause for concern. Ultimately, a nuanced and well-informed perspective on the impact of platformisation on academia is necessary to ensure that the academic community can maximize the benefits of digital infrastructures while mitigating negative consequences.

URL : Platformisation of Science. Conceptual Foundations and Critical Perspectives for the Science System


The Platformisation of Scholarly Information and How to Fight It

Author : Lai Ma

The commercial control of academic publishing and research infrastructure by a few oligopolistic companies has crippled the development of open access movement and interfered with the ethical principles of information access and privacy.

In recent years, vertical integration of publishers and other service providers throughout the research cycle has led to platformisation, characterized by datafication and commodification similar to practices on social media platforms. Scholarly publications are treated as user-generated contents for data tracking and surveillance, resulting in profitable data products and services for research assessment, benchmarking and reporting.

Meanwhile, the bibliodiversity and equal open access are denied by the dominant gold open access model and the privacy of researchers is being compromised by spyware embedded in research infrastructure.

This article proposes four actions to fight the platformisation of scholarly information after a brief overview of the market of academic journals and research assessments and their implications for bibliodiversity, information access, and privacy: (1) Educate researchers about commercial publishers and APCs; (2) Allocate library budget to support scholar-led and library publishing; (3) Engage in the development of public research infrastructures and copyright reform; and (4) Advocate for research assessment reforms.

URL : The Platformisation of Scholarly Information and How to Fight It